|By G. Michael Dobbs|
SPRINGFIELD Springfield has many advantages for Jewish families, according to Rabbi Max Davis of Congregation B'nai Torah who presented those features at the Orthodox Union (OU) fourth annual Jewish Communities Home and Job Relocation Fair that was conducted April 21 in New York City.
Springfield was one of 41 communities from 18 states to participate in the event, which is designed to give Jewish families information about living outside of New York and New Jersey.
"What is being emphasized is affordable living," Rabbi Judah Isaacs, director of the OU's Department of Community Engagement, explained. "Each of the communities offers the ability to live a more affordable lifestyle, with good paying jobs and reasonably priced housing."
Isaacs added, "It is not possible to visit every community, so the fair offers a unique opportunity for 'one stop,' shopping, to learn about each and their unique characteristics. These communities offer a better quality of life for a young Orthodox Jewish family. Interested people will be encouraged to visit communities for Shabbat following the fair, to learn more and to meet residents."
Davis said that he and two members of his congregation manned a table at the fair presenting information on Springfield. He said the city's lower cost of living is a plus. Speaking about this more scenic region, Davis joked, "Western Massachusetts has a lot more in the beauty department than Brooklyn."
He said the people with whom he spoke expressed curiosity in settling someplace else. Many of the people who came to the Springfield table were from Queens and Brooklyn, N.Y., and Teaneck, N.J., Davis added.
Davis said the "real test" would come in the follow-up in the next few weeks to see if those families invited to come to Springfield will make the trip here.
The number one factor for those interested in relocating is jobs, he said.
Davis understands the situation as he said he made the move himself. He lived in the Washington Heights neighborhood of New York City for four years before making the decision to look for "a quieter place."
For Davis, this was the second time the congregation participated in the fair and he said this time he brought a secret weapon to draw people to the Springfield table: Girl Scout cookies.
"No one can resist a Thin Mint," he said.
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